As State and Federal Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare (OHSW) legislations become more comprehensive to ensure safe working practices across Australia, organisations must proactively assess, manage and amend their OSHW practices to demonstrate an effective workplace safety culture. There are few industries where this commitment to safety is more essential than in industrial construction.
Work Health and Safety in the Building and Construction Industry
For over five years, the construction industry has seen a significant amount of injury claims, only falling behind to automated production and agricultural labour. These workplace incidents incur costs far beyond the physical injuries to those involved, causing ripples that result in loss of productivity, organisational culture and ultimately, profit margins. With an average of 36 fatalities per year and 35 injuries per day, there are clear repercussions to the industry beyond these tragic human costs. The cost of work-related injuries in Australia for the 2012-13 financial year was estimated to be $61.8 billion (or 4.1 per cent of GDP for the same period), with organisations bearing $11 billion of that loss and the vast remainder being felt by employees through loss of wages.
Despite these bleak statistics, the reality is that the construction industry has made great strides in their workplace safety practices. Between 2001 and 2010, workplace injuries in industrial construction fell 31% while WorkCover claims saw a 5% decrease between 2010 and 2014, placing less financial strain on the national economy and construction organisations.
The Impact of Unsafe Work Practices
When the worst occurs and there is a fatal accident on a major industrial work site, the ramifications are felt far and wide. Two incidents at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital site in Adelaide almost two years apart – where two workers were the victims of almost identical catastrophes with a scissor lift – have brought these issues to the surface. The incidents were almost two years apart, suggesting that the site’s safety processes were not sufficiently audited to prevent a similar mistake occurring.
Half a year later, on a different construction site in Adelaide, a 17-year-old apprentice tragically died from his injuries after a wall frame fell on his unprotected head. These horrific accidents have prompted the CFMEU, Australia’s main trade union for construction workers, to call for more stringent legislation concerning requirements for hard hats on all construction sites, not just large industrial projects. While the immediate question of culpability in these matters remains to be determined, the ultimate responsibility and duty to their employees belongs to the construction industry itself.
It falls to the industry to not only comply with the exhaustive State and Federal Codes of Practice on workplace safety, but to institute, maintain and adapt a safe working culture of their own, with comprehensive training and safety guards.
McMahon Services & Our Commitment to Safety
McMahon Services is deeply committed to safety in the workplace; both complying with national and international safety Codes of Practice, and maintaining a WHSEQ Management System that sets us apart as an industry leader in safe construction workplace practices. Notably, McMahon Services was the first multi-disciplinary industrial construction company in Australia to receive Federal Safety Accreditation.
The WHSEQ Management System is an integrated database accessible to all McMahon Services employees that covers their acts, regulations, standards, policies, procedures, safe work instructions and forms, as well as maintaining records for training, plant and equipment, and incident management.
This safety architecture, along with a commitment to consistent auditing of processes and practices to provide a safer workplace, demonstrates McMahon Services’ dedication to a thriving safety culture that puts its employees first. This promise of a safe working culture is part of McMahon Services’ promise to its ‘team mates’ and its core values as a corporation.
McMahon Services are committed to setting the industrial construction safety standard in 2017 and beyond, through their considered WHSEQ Management System that allows the company to implement thorough management plans for every project, with careful auditing of current safety processes and records that encourage healthy and safe working environs for their employees.
Recognising that a safety system, however exhaustive, must be accompanied by similarly detailed architectures of training and behavioural review, McMahon Services has instituted the Safety Focused Behavioural Program. This suite of workshops, training materials, on-site mentors and behavioural prompters is designed to equip their employees with the structure, knowledge and skills to engender safe working practices within the company.
McMahon Services takes the responsibility of their workers’ safety very seriously, and their WHSEQ Management System and Safety Focused Behavioural Program are central to their established OHS culture. Merely observing industry standards of safety and codes of practice is insufficient for any industrial construction organisation truly dedicated to maintaining a safe workplace culture.